What's the Point of Sweeping?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Customer Service and Admin Specialist

Anytime we have a new player out in either our Curling Leagues or FunSpiels they sometimes ask “what’s the point of sweeping?” Well, I'm here to help!

First, lets start with the basics. When you throw a rock, you are aiming for the 'house' (refer to our Curling Headline What the Hack? Curling Terminology for more Curling terms). With a small flick-of-the-wrist, rocks can be thrown clockwise or counter-clockwise (sometimes intentionally, sometimes because ice is slippery and Curling is hard), creating some spin so you can curve the rock as it moves down the sheet. Adding a slight spin will give you more predictability over where it is going to settle. Most rocks, if thrown without spin, will still rotate at some point and will likely not end up where you wanted it to. Additionally, all Curling rinks are made with pebbled ice. Spinning the rock is going to help create friction between the rock and the ice pebbles, making the rock slide farther. 

Now, down to the meat and potatoes, the reason we sweep is to create even more friction, which will actually melt the ice. You might not be able to see it, but trust me, it melts. We want those pebbles to have a tiny layer of water on them for the rock to glide on, making the rock travel farther.

A good sweeper can make a rock go up to 8-12 feet farther then the rock would have traveled on its own. If a rock is traveling too fast, the sweepers can't do anything to slow it down. If the shot is light, the sweepers can help bring it where they want it to settle by melting the ice to make it travel faster and by melting the ice in the direction they want it to travel. That right there, ladies and gentlemen, is why we sweep!